Music is Life…

Update Your Playlist.

That’s just one of our rallying cries around our season programming. You’ll see much more of this and other statements that encapsulate our feelings about music, theater, dance and spoken word.

Music is such a huge part of our lives–as a performing arts entity, as humans living in a vibrant, music-rich city. No, make that a vibrant, music-rich world.

The way we consume music has changed dramatically over the last handful of years. It’s remarkable how much the playlist has taken over. Even for those of us, yours truly included, who still love to listen to and purchase whole albums of favorite artists, the concept of playlist is no longer as much of a labor of love as it once was. Raise your hand if you slaved over mix CDs for Valentine’s Day gifts, workout mixes, girls nights, baby showers etc? Now, a playlist is a daily occurrence, fueled as much by our own deep dives of discovery into the vastness of the music landscape as it is by the songs and sounds our social media platforms are building for us.

Here at the Center we are constantly and joyously having our collective playlist updated by the incredible artists from around the world we encounter. And they, each in their own form and culture are updating the playlists of their lineage, the history and legacy of their forms. And by bringing them here to our stages, we are seeking to update your personal playlist as well.

We recently added another great to this year’s lineup–Blues/funk/soul singer and guitar player Black Joe Lewis and his band will co-headline with modern soul great Booker T. Jones here in Royce Hall on Friday December 4. This is sure to be a  very special night as Lewis and his band open the show. His horn section will stick around and flesh out Booker T.’s band and there will likely be more on-stage collaboration between Joe and Booker throughout the evening. The two consummate performers have never worked together before, but are mutual admirers and we count ourselves extremely lucky to bring them together for the first time in an exclusive performance on our season.

Black Joe Lewis and his band.
Black Joe Lewis and his band.

This is just one example of a season full of concerts that are exclusive pairings of musicians and groups that will happen nowhere else in the world–creating a truly eclectic and unique live-playlist experience.

Our exclusive concert pairings include:

  • Grammy Winning jazz collective Snarky Puppy with eclectic local quintet Kneebody on Thursday, September 24 at 8 p.m. in Royce Hall.  (Kneebody will also perform a free outdoor lunchtime concert to welcome students back to campus).
  • Ukranian trance-like quartet DakhaBrakha will be joined by the revered Tuvan throat singers of Huun Huur Tu on Friday, September 25.
  •  Our exclusive Mardi Gras Bhangra event on Tuesday February 9 pairs the unlikely but equally thrilling sounds of New York “dhol and brass” ensemble Red Baraat with legendary New Orleans pianist Henry Butler, trumpeter Steven Bernstein & The Hot 9.
  • Regina Carter returns to Royce Hall February 26 with her violin to share her deeply personal latest album Southern Comfort. We’ve paired her with Los Angeles-based Sam Amidon, a singer, guitarist, fiddler and banjo player who creates “recomposed folk songs.”
  • March 5, 2016 we bring together North African griot and acclaimed ardine player Noura Mint Seymali and her band with Tal National, with its  blissfully hypnotic West African guitar music. Both bands transcend the suffering and turmoil caused by years of civil unrest with the sound of their defiantly joyous music.
  • We’re also one of just a few performance stops for Tigran Hamasyan, who will be bringing us sacred music from Armenia in a thoughtful and rare program that also includes members of the Yerevan State Chamber Choir–Saturday, December 5th in Royce Hall.

And,  couple of new albums from season artists are nearly ready for your playlists.

Buddy Guy, who kicks off our season in just a few weeks (August 13 at Royce Hall) has a new studio album arriving on July 31. “Born To Play Guitar,” features guest appearances by Van Morrison, Joss Stone, Kim Wilson and Billy Gibbons. Morrison joins Buddy on the heartfelt “Flesh & Bone,” a song dedicated to the late great B.B. King. On “Come Back Muddy” Guy reminisces about the good ole days with his friend Muddy Waters.

(We’ve also recently added local rock-blues trio The Record Company to the Buddy Guy show. They will open the night. Get to know them before you arrive, you won’t regret it.)

Anoushkha Shankar, who will be with us April 13 2016, with a Hang drum player, and live electronics, has a new album coming out this week, July 10 titled “HOME.”  Inspired by her classical upbringing and teaching by her legendary father, Maestro Ravi Shankar this album offers both meditative and virtuoso Indian classical raga for solo sitar with ensemble.

Recently, the Grammy Museum opened an exhibit devoted to Anoushka’s revered father, Ravi Shankar. It is the first time this acclaimed musician has been so honored in the United States and the exhibit runs through Spring of 2016.

I know, for me, it was Ravi Shankar who brought the sitar into my personal playlist and I am looking forward to having his virtuosic daughter update it even further.

Please join us often in the coming months as we celebrate the art of performance in myriad and mystical musical forms.  Our playlists will most certainly be bulging.